TJPW Princess Cup (31/8/21) Review

A rare chance to catch The Ace off-guard. Credit: TJPW

It’s quarter-final time in the Princess Cup, and while certain other joshi tournaments might be kicking off, we all know this is where the real action is. Coming in, I was fairly confident how one of these matches would end but could have easily been convinced either way with the other three, so we are in exciting territory here.

Mirai Maiumi, Pom Harajuku & Kaya Toribami defeated Yuki Kamifuku, Mahiro Kiryu & Moka Miyamoto

The perfect spot from which to apologise for your partner’s actions. Credit: TJPW

Someone had pissed Kamiyu off, and by someone, I mean Kaya. She had it in for TJPW’s newest rookie, going after her so aggressively (despite not being the legal woman) that Mahiro felt the need to apologise for her conduct. I think you can learn everything you need to know about their relationship from that little snippet of information.

And this was the latest in a long line of decent Tokyo Joshi openers. I sometimes worry that I get repetitive in my reviews of these things because they tend to be enjoyable tags that don’t have enough substance to be anything more than that. If you choose to skip past it, you won’t miss much, but if you watch it, you’ll have a nice time.

Verdict: Enjoyable, But Skippable

Hyper Misao defeated Nodoka Tenma and Haruna Neko in a three-way

I didn’t watch the actual opening ceremony, but I assume this was better. Credit: TJPW

Olympic opening ceremonies and substitute officials, you can’t miss a Hyper Misao three-way because who knows what will happen. There was a moment where she convinced Neko that she’d won, only to teach her the invaluable lesson that just because someone is wearing a black and white stripy top, it doesn’t mean you should trust them. When you think about it, Misao is providing a public service.

If you haven’t guessed, we were in nonsense territory here, Misao leading her opponents through a twisty experience that saw her come out on top. She was brilliant at it because she always is while Neko and Tenma make for fantastic dance partners. I think it could all be summed up by Nodoka, half in and half out of a ref shirt, looking baffled as Misao marched to the back victorious, holding a sign with her name on it aloft. Never change.

Verdict: Misao Always Has At Least Two Plans

Hikari Noa, Raku & Yuki Arai defeated Nao Kakuta, Arisu Endo & Marika Kobashi

Arisu impresses. Credit: TJPW

Hikari and Endo got a chance to work an extended sequence together at the end of this match, and they looked great. In her role as the underdog champ, Hikari does a fantastic job of putting opponents over, flopping around for them and making everything they do look vicious. It’s getting to the point where when I watch her interact with basically anyone, I come out the other side wanting that title match. Endo isn’t going to get a shot any time soon, but it would probably rule if she did.

Outside of that, it was another solid thumbs up from me. Like the opener, you can probably skip it if you’re in a rush, but if you do give it your time, I can’t imagine you’ll regret it.

Verdict: Let Hikari Wrestle Everyone

Maki Itoh defeated Suzume in the Princess Cup Quarter-Final

Flying Bee. Credit: TJPW

I’ve never mentally filed Suzume in the big box marked goblin wrestler, and I’m not entirely sure why. Not only did she attack Itoh during ‘Brooklyn The Hole’, dropkicking her from behind, but she was a constant menace. You felt like Suzume knew she was the underdog, so she came in determined to do anything she could to give herself a chance. That led to her buzzing around her opponent but also going big, throwing herself from the top rope to the floor. She even managed to reverse a Flying Big Head into the Ring A Bell, a move that they timed impeccably.

It wasn’t only Suzume who impressed, though. I’ve talked before about Itoh’s switch in style, how she’s gone from always being the underdog to controlling matches, and it was very evident here. Suzume was a potential banana skin, a weaker opponent who Itoh expected to beat but was coming out swinging. Maki did a fantastic job of getting that across, showing a bit of arrogance, but eventually accepting she was going to have to work to get the win. The very best wrestlers have the talent to make opponents look credible in defeat, and Itoh is starting to show that.

As a final note, I loved the finishing sequence, Itoh reversing a Ring A Bell before using a backslide to set up the Itoh Punish. It was silky smooth and another glimpse of how far she has come. This wasn’t just Itoh’s match, though, and Suzume has proven again and again that she is someone TJPW can rely on. These two were a formidable pairing, so I hope this isn’t the last time we get to see the goblin bee attempt to overcome Itoh-chan.

Verdict: Top Stuff

Miu Watanabe defeated Yuki Aino in the Princess Cup Quarter Final

Big strong Miu! Credit: TJPW

There aren’t many pairings in Tokyo Joshi who could put on this match. Yuki and Miu are powerhouses, throwing opponents around and grinding away at them. Aino’s strength isn’t quite as flashy as Miu’s, she doesn’t do the giant swings or double slams, but it’s what makes things like her Full Nelson work. She’s strong enough to bully most of the roster.

That clash made this match feel gruelling, but in a good way. Every move and every hit looked like it hurt, the two of them putting all they had into them. Aino used her submission game well, getting Miu into the Full Nelson, but Watanabe’s power proved unstoppable. Her carrying Aino across the ring in a Bear Hug before transitioning into a Giant Swing was an astonishing moment. We’ve seen her twirl smaller roster members at those speeds before, but to do it to someone like Yuki was hella impressive.

It was ultimately that power which won the game, those big moves trumping anything Aino could do. Still, it’s starting to feel like Yuki and Miu are hanging around the outskirts of the TJPW big hitters, ready to get the tap on the shoulder at any moment. With matches like this and both of their relatively recent title challenges, they’re looking ready, and I’ve no doubt they’ll smash it if that moment comes.

Verdict: POWER!

Shoko Nakajima defeated Rika Tatsumi in the Princess Cup Quarter Final

The plan was working at this point. Credit: TJPW

For a while now, I’ve been raving about Rika feeling like a wrestler with a plan. It doesn’t matter who she’s facing Tatsumi has a way that she wants the match to go, and she does everything in her power to push it in that direction. Ever since January and her title win over Yuka, we’ve seen her attack people’s legs with Dragon Screws and Figure Fours, weakening them up so that she can later transition to the White Dragon Sleeper or go flying in with that Diamond Ass. I love it because it feels closer to how sports usually work. A great boxer won’t go into MMA and try to grapple someone. He’ll punch them in the face because that’s what he’s good at.

What we saw here, though, was someone who had come up with a way to deal with everything Rika did. Shoko essentially wrestled this on the counter-attack, not so much stopping Rika’s plans as finding ways to wriggle out of them and keep herself in the fight. It was reminiscent of classic Jose Mourinho (not the haverin mad man we have nowadays) when he seemed to dance a step ahead of his opponents. Rika didn’t do anything wrong. It was that Shoko was able to stop what she did do from being as effective as it normally would be.

It made this match feel like exactly what it was, two of Tokyo Joshi’s best grappling to see who came out on top. I’ve often said that Shoko is the company’s underappreciated gem, people regularly forgetting to include her in their praise, but she truly is extraordinary. Rika, meanwhile, may have lost her title but she is in the midst of an outstanding twelve months that have done her reputation a world of good. The only downside is that one of them had to lose, preventing us the joy of seeing them both compete in the semis.

Verdict: Two Of The Best

Mizuki defeated Miyu Yamashita in the Princess Quarter Final

Away you go. Credit: TJPW

Miyu Yamashita may suck in tournaments, but that doesn’t mean Mizuki was destined to win this match. 2021’s Miyu is a monster, destroying all that stands in her path. Early on, she shoved Mizuki casually into the ring post, following up by booting her from the apron and demanding that she get into the ring. There is a casual arrogance to her violence, which comes from knowing she truly is the best.

Luckily for Mizuki, she understands violence. I often find first-time viewers don’t get her, unable to figure out why this wee lass in her flouncy pink and white gear is one of the company’s most popular wrestlers. Then you realise that underneath that exterior is a devil child, one who aims to drive her boots a foot through the chest of the person she’s hitting. So many people would be blown away by Miyu’s onslaught, but Mizuki isn’t most people. She met violence with violence, hitting a double foot stomp from the top rop to a prone Miyu lying on the floor below.

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, and ultimately what won Mizuki this match was her ability to surprise. To do things that other people wouldn’t. You can be on top of Miyu, but she will boot you in the head the second she gets an inch, so you have to take the inch first. Mizuki turned this match on its head by throwing a charging Miyu with a Cutie Special, giving herself a rare chance to go on the attack and brutally take the three.

Honestly, this was brilliant, and if it had headlined a TJPW Korakuen, I’d have gone away more than happy. Mizuki and Miyu are special wrestlers, and as much as I loved this, I reckon they can do even better. Fingers crossed we get to see it someday.

Verdict: Beat Violence With Violence

Overall Show

This show had four very different quarter-final matches, all of which more than delivered. I actually feel a bit sorry for those who are through to the semis because they’re going to have to top this somehow, and that’s going to be a hell of a task. Still, it will be fun to watch them give it ago. For what it’s worth, my money is now on Shoko to beat Mizuki in the final, giving Miyu another big title defence against one of her old rivals. It also allows for Itoh to win the belt on January 4th and Mizuki to take it from her shortly after. If any of that happens, I will be screenshotting this and showing it to the world. If it doesn’t, we’ll never speak of it again.

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